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Effect of summertime wind conditions on lateral and bottom melting in the central Arctic

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To understand the role of wind conditions on the summertime surface ocean system, the ocean, ice and atmosphere in the central Arctic Ocean were observed using two drifting buoys, one in 2002 under stormy conditions, one in 2003 under calm conditions. Although the ice concentration near the North Pole was the same in 2002 and 2003 during early summer, the heat used in bottom melting in 2003 was only about half of that in 2002. To obtain the total heat input into the upper ocean, heat used in lateral melting was additionally derived from a time series of ice concentration in 2002. Assuming the same heat input into the upper ocean, the heat used in lateral and bottom melting was estimated and compared between the years. It is thought that the warm fresh water embedded within the ice cover was mixed downward during the frequently stormy mid-summer of 2002, enhancing bottom melting. By contrast, the warm water in 2003 tended to be used for lateral melting due to the relatively calm conditions, suggesting that a continuously weak wind favours ice-cover decrease during summer. A simple calculation of the ice-cover evolution reveals that the difference in ice concentration during August between 2002 and 2003 reached 10%, which is consistent with the satellite-derived ice concentration.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-11-01

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  • The Annals of Glaciology is a peer-reviewed, thematic journal published 2 to 4 times a year by the International Glaciological Society (IGS). Publication frequency is determined and volume/issue numbers assigned by the IGS Council on a year-to-year basis and with a lead time of 3 to 4 years. The Annals of Glaciology is included in the ISI Science Citation Index from volume 50, number 50 onwards.

    Themes can be on any aspect of the study of snow and ice. Individual members can make a suggestion for a theme for an Annals issue to the Secretary General, who will forward it to the IGS Publications Committee. The IGS Publication Committee will make a recommendation for an individual themed Annals issue, together with a potential Annals Chief Editor for that issue, to IGS Council. The IGS Council will make the decision whether to proceed, taking into account the spread of topics and the overall capacity for publication of pages in Annals.

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